Budget to support Hampshire's economic recovery
Monday, 18 February 2013
A massive £600million of capital investment for Hampshire's economy over the next three years is being proposed by the County Council.
That's the scale of one of the biggest ever capital programmes that has been endorsed by the Council's Cabinet for recommendation to the Full Council at its budget setting meeting on 21 February 2013.
The Budget setting meeting can be watched live from 10am on 21 February or soon afterwards from the archive.
The capital investment is expected to give a big boost to Hampshire's economy by creating or safeguarding more jobs in the building industry than any other organisation - vital after a period of recession and at a time when the country is working towards economic recovery.
As well as a capital programme of around £600million, it's estimated that the County Council is procuring £600million from the local economy each year - double its pay bill - and that's believed to be the largest injection of funding from any local authority into the private sector anywhere in England.
Around £165million of the new capital programme will create around 8,000 new school places. There is also £160million for roads and transport infrastructure and £45million to build Extra Care units to support the transformation of care and greater independence and choice for Hampshire's ageing population.
Subject to approval of the 2013/14 budget by Full Council, the Council is also using up to £26.5million from reserves to invest in priority areas. These include economic development and continuing to progress the current programme of faster broadband, plus match funding for infrastructure investment to unlock development sites; funding to improve access to Hampshire's countryside and heritage assets, progress on a district heating scheme within Winchester and for enhancing rural village life through shared spaces and grants to improve community centres.
Other significant plans include a £3million investment for Gosport Skills Centre, a centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Advanced Skills Training on the Daedulus Enterprise Zone site. The technical training centre will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics technologies and wider engineering disciplines and will be led by Fareham College supported by St Vincent College and private sector employers. It is anticipated it will create sustainable employment opportunities by attracting investment and employers to the area.
The Cabinet is recommending to the Full County Council a draft budget that will see Council Tax frozen at the same level for the fourth year running, £1,037.88 for Band D, one of the lowest in England.
Council Leader Ken Thornber said: "The impact of Government grant reductions, service pressures and inflation left us with a potential gap of around £70million in our budget for the coming year. However we have been able to balance that due to the early and decisive action we took to respond to the national deficit reduction programme, achieving savings of £130million over the last two and a half years. Not only are we balancing the budget at a time when many other councils are making significant cuts, but we are adding growth to our services too, including £6.5million for social care - up to 70 new frontline child protection social workers and support staff and £4million to support our transformation of elderly care as well as a very substantial capital investment to protect and strengthen Hampshire's future."